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Friday, September 24, 2010

Signature: Patterns in Gond Art

This is our last day for Tara Books week and the last book I will be talking about is the beautiful Signature: Patterns in Gond Art, which is just stunning. There are way too many artists to list that were involved with this book, but it was edited and put together by Gita Wolf, Bhajju Shyam and Jonathan Yamakami... a few names we have seen quite a bit over the past week!

This book was the very first book I looked through from Tara Books. On first glance through the book, I thought the intricate patterns were actually needlework art and couldn't believe it when I figured out that they were paintings and drawings. Incredible is the only word to describe it. Through this book, I learned so much about Gond tribal art, such as each artist featured in this book has created their own unique and distinctive design that have particular meanings. The designs are so distinctive that you once you are familiar with an artists' work, you can tell their art apart from others just based on the design. That's why this book is called Signature, since the main focus of the book is the intricate designs in each of the images. And that is essentially what each of the designs are to the artist - a signature.

This book is put together so well and beautifully. I love that the entire image is minimal and the main focus of the book is the design in the art. Sort of similar to pointillism, and yet so much more unique than just dots on a page.

To accompany each image and design, the artist of each image has included what the design or image means to them and how they came up with it. Most of the images seem inspired by sentimental and simple things in their lives as well as other forms of art or crafts like weaving, which could possibly be why I mistook some of the art for some sort of needlepoint at first.

Some of the artists who are featured in the book have been around for a while and are a bit more well-known such as Durga Bai, whose work we saw with The Churki-Burki Book of Rhyme and others, to lesser known emerging teenage artists making their way into the art world.

For any art collector or anyone who is just interested in the world or art in general, this is a definite must-have. It's another new release from Tara Books and you will be kicking yourself if you miss out on it. Hop on over to the site and check it out. I would like to thank Tara Books SO much for introducing me to their amazing artists and works. Make sure you visit the site because they don't just sell books, but stationery, art prints and cards as well. The cards are all handmade and the stationery journals called Flukebooks, are a completely unique art experience of their own. Seriously, each journal is completely unique and there is not another one like it anywhere in the world... and they are all VERY reasonably priced, so please... support a completely worthy art cause and visit them right now. Tara Books... you are amazing.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Like Cats

Tara Books week is almost over (oh no!), but do not fret! Today and tomorrow's features are on a couple of incredible and amazing books, not any more or less incredible than the previous book features, but pretty incredible nonetheless! There are a whole buttload of artists involved with today's book I Love Cats, which I absolutely adored, being a huge cat lover. This title is also a new release from the fabulous Tara Books, so be sure to check it out once you've read about how much I loved this book (plus the book comes with a silkscreen print!)

Just to cover the fabulous artists that are featured in this book, there is; Swarna Chitrakar, Bhajju Shyam, Durga Bai, Putli Ganju, Chelia Hamir, Balu Ladkya Domada, Radhashyam Raut, Mayank Shyam, Ramesh Hengadi, Man Singh Vyam, Kalaba Shyam, Eknath Gangavana, Anand Shyam, Moyna and Joydeb Chitrakar, Roshani Vyam, and Avinash Veeraraghavan. Also, a bunch of the artists are listed as unknown, so as much as I wish I could list everyone involved, some of the beautiful illustrations remain mystery artists. If you've been following this weeks features, you may recognize some of the artists names from a couple of the other books.

Anyways, this book is basically a collective of amazing cat art with words that could be associated with how the cats look in the images, which you can see in the sample pieces at the end of this review. The drawings vary from simple cats with teeny tiny intricate designs in them to thick lined abstract cats. Each artist brings their own interpretation of cats to the page... silly, serious, fierce, ferocious, fun, beautiful... all words that I could use to describe some of the cats found in this book. All of the cats are different too, not just your average housecat... there's all sorts of fierce wild puddytats drawn in this book too.

The art in this book has been put together so well and the book overall has been designed fantastically to bring you a great piece of art and literature. I know that this book has a special place in my heart already and I consider it one of the most amazing pieces of art that I own in my home. This book is a great addition to any collection, whether you want it for a kids book, a personal fun book, or a really nice coffee table book for people to look through when they visit.

Bravo to the brilliant artists in this book for making me smile with their beautifully drawn cats.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Churki-Burki Book of Rhyme

Carrying on with the Tara Books week, we have the next book on my list The Churki-Burki Book of Rhyme written by Gita Wolf and drawn by Durga Bai.

This is a new release by Tara Books and I was very honoured to receive a copy of this book. This book has a fun story for readers of all ages, but personally for me, as much as I enjoyed the story, I enjoyed the art even more. The story follows Churki and Burki, two sisters who love to rhyme as they explore, play and help others in their village. The story is a really fun concept that is based on the artist, Durga Bai's childhood in her village of Patangahr (click on Durga Bai's name to learn a little bit more about her!).

The extraordinary thing about this book is, again, the stunning artwork shown in it. What starts off as simple drawings, turn into masterpieces with the beautiful designs in each of the images. Very much like pointillism, but instead of just simple dots of colour, the images are filled in with their very own signature design and then are covered by a solid colour. There's no shading or any shadowing or any technical bits that much of western art seems consumed with, but rather just beautiful and straight to the point drawings to convey a wonderful story.

Even without the words, you would be able to tell a story of your own interpretation and I think that's what makes this book (and all of the Gond tribal art I've encountered so far) so remarkable, unique and generally stunning.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Today, as I mentioned yesterday, we continue our Tara Books themed week. The book I'm talking about today is Andrea Anastasio's Fingerprint. Basically, this book came into existence through the creators experience when visiting the United States and getting fingerprinted by airport immigration authorities.

The book is a small hardcover book completely made up of fingerprints. There are no words to accompany the visual story, but rather leaves it open to interpretation through the beautiful screen printed fingerprints on each page. The book starts with small increments of fingerprints and works its way up to numerous mushed together fingerprints. Some pages are neat and tidy, while other pages are chaotic and abstract, however, the whole time maintaining the fact that each little bit of paint on the page in unmistakably a fingerprint.

When I first saw this book, I didn't really know what to make of it, but what begins as at first glance, a seemingly childish project, becomes more complex and intricate the more you look at it and study it. I wish I had more to write about this book because it's a truly interesting and unique concept, but there's only so much that one can write about fingerprints. I do however, highly recommend you check it out for yourself.

Here are some images from the book itself:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Flight of the Mermaid

Well this week I have a really special treat for you. This whole week is a really awesome themed week full of some truly spectacular art coming from South India. This fabulous publishing company called Tara Books has introduced me to their line of products. Just to give you a little bit of information about the company, here's a snippit from their About Us page on their web site:

"Tara Books is an independent publisher of picture books for adults and children based in Chennai, South India. Now in our fifteenth year, we remain a collective of dedicated writers, designers and artists who strive for a union of fine form with rich content. We continue to work with a growing tribe of adventurous people from around the world. Fiercely independent, we publish a select list that straddles diverse genres, offering our readers unusual and rare voices in art and literature."

I wasn't completely sure what to expect when I was first told about the books, but once I opened the first one up and looked through it, I was completely blown away by the amazing work in the books. So basically this week, I'm going to enlighten you about some books you should seriously be aware of. This company is amazing and helps bring the artwork of South India to us through these brilliant books and you absolutely need to see them for yourself. Without further ado, I bring you my first Tara Books review of Flight of the Mermaid.

To start with, I am a huge fan of this classic fairy tale, not to mention the Disney movie which makes me oh so happy as well! We've all heard the story and many different variations, and yet this telling of the little mermaid is uniquely different and beautiful. It follows the same general plot of the original story with some changes, but what truly makes this book unique is not necessarily the telling of the story, so much as the beautiful illustrations that accompany it.

The book itself is a lovely hardcover book that comes with a removable fish made from the material the book cover is made from so you can glimpse the first page illustration of the mermaid herself. Each and every little thing drawn in the book is made up of smaller and stunningly intricate designs. Every colour in each drawing perfectly complements the illustration and help make the art pop out of the page. The illustrations at first glance might seem simple and child-like, but upon further inspection, again, the intricate designs in each item make the artwork so precious. It truly baffles me to think about how long the artist, Bhajju Shyam, worked to make these drawings so beautiful.

It really makes you realize that there is still so much art out there being made without the aid of computers in this nearly completely digital age. So much work has gone into this book that it's hard not to fall in love with it immediately. As a sidenote for children reading this book, it is an absolutely stunning book but for parents, don't forget that the original stories of the little mermaid are a lot darker than the fluffy (and amazing...) Disney version. With that being said though, the story is completely appropriate for readers of all ages in my humble opinion. With that being said, I will leave you with some images of the book from the Tara Books web site.